Following the WWE Draft, there was no question that Raw was miles ahead of SmackDown Live in terms of their respective female rosters. Though we did see some established names head to Tuesday nights, women like Charlotte, Nia Jax, Paige and the new WWE Women’s Champion Sasha Banks allowed Raw to secure the superior women’s division, while the blue brand fell behind with just six names, half of whom haven’t even seen the light of day as far as the title is concerned.
In theory, it would make sense that SmackDown Live would want to showcase each of its female athletes at once during their inaugural episode, in order to make the division look more stacked than it actually is, but what it ended up with was actually counterproductive.
Following a decent match between the two front-runners of the division, Becky Lynch and Natalya, we were introduced to each of the remaining members of the SmackDown Live women’s locker room.
Alexa Bliss was the first to make her presence felt, stating that although Becky Lynch was the first woman drafted to SmackDown Live, she is the personification of what the new era looks like. Naomi then made her return, questioning how Bliss could run her mouth when she hasn’t even set foot in a SmackDown ring yet, and then going on to say that SmackDown Live was her stage to shine on.
The party continued with Carmella’s debut, as “The Princess of Staten Island” declared that Tuesday nights were about to get a little more fabulous. Finally, Eva Marie came out after a lengthy voice-over describing her many assets, posing for the fans and showing off her good looks.
And that was it. No brawl, no interaction between any of the people involved. It just ended.
It’s easy to see what WWE was going for here: Try to make each of the women on the roster relevant in one fell swoop. They could have done it if the segment went somewhere, but instead of setting up a feud between any of them, or justifying why SmackDown Live might be able to debut a women’s title, they actually hinted that these women may not be able to carry the division alone.
It’s not any of their faults individually, either. They each have something to offer.
Becky Lynch is a fantastic wrestler with a fiery personality and the fan support to maintain a spot atop the division.
Natalya is a veteran, and the first woman to graduate from the Hart family dungeon; any woman would benefit from a good story with her, win or lose.
Naomi has been one of the most athletic and overlooked women on the WWE payroll since her arrival in 2010, a spot on the more condensed SmackDown Live roster might just allow her to “glow” as a performer.
Alexa Bliss has showcased great promise down in NXT, particularly since her heel run began, and she could easily be a top heel on the blue brand.
Carmella has showmanship and charisma in spades, which is only natural due to her affiliation with Enzo Amore and Big Cass. It would surprise nobody to see her quickly become a fan-favorite.
Eva Marie has had her issues in the company but she is still here, and WWE is continuing to take advantage of her most prominent feature, her beauty. You may not like her, but she draws organic heat, which is something WWE is not going to waste.
As individuals, there’s nothing obscenely wrong with any of them, but based on Tuesday night, they may not have the chemistry to gel together and make SmackDown Live a platform for women’s wrestling, especially if they’re continuously placed in angles that highlight how thin the roster is.
Unless they can find a way to maintain at least two female rivalries at a time on SmackDown Live, which can be really difficult on a two-hour show, they’re going to have to withhold some of the talent from performing every week if they want to imply some depth to the roster.
They can easily rotate who competes each week. It shouldn’t be difficult to do on a “wrestling-based” show, as SmackDown Live is apparently meant to be. It looks like Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon are going the long route to becoming the must-see show, which may hurt them in the short-term but could result in a big payoff down the line.
It is a learning curve, so hopefully they’ve taken the criticism from the fans that the way they started with the women’s division is not the best way to highlight each member of the roster. If they don’t mind taking their time with American Alpha and Shelton Benjamin, they can take their time with the women too. What happened on Tuesday night was simply too much too soon